No point writing Development Plan for each of your employees!

Human life has numerous possibilities, carries unsuspected potential and hence, is always in the queue of ‘development’. The road to fulfilment is always under construction. Each day of our life is a new day and hence, an opportunity to develop something new, progress a few yards more towards fulfilment. Most of us understand this.

However, most organizations do not get this right! Most large organizations who claim maturity of their HR processes have a ritual where the manager sits with the employee to discuss development plan for the employee. While the intention is to help the employee align one’s own development aspirations with that of the organization and help him plan for it, the way it plays out is very different. Organization and the manager are expected to play an enabling role in the person’s life as s/he tries to fulfil one’s personal ambitions of development. In reality, it turns out to be a list of things that get chosen from a basket of training programs to attend, a set of books to read, a set of subscriptions to forums etc. The previous period’s plan also gets reviewed very objectively as a few check-boxes of ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Many hail this as a very objective and effective process. I wonder if this fulfils the noble intent of helping a plant grow into a tree and then to a legend!

Surely, it doesn’t! Let’s think of the processes that we have in our families to help a kid grow. We have discussions in various settings to discuss the goal (example, a first-division in the class and a place in the school cricket team), set up the action plans (example, a timetable, coaching class, certain kind of food regimen) to achieve them, review the progress and the goal itself. Once in a while, we review the design itself … if we are taking the right actions. We think of other peers, other benchmarks and consult with more experienced people and review the design. And something very interesting comes up… may be, the kid has to learn music as a complimentary skill or yoga to increase concentration or go to a counsellor to deal with success! Parents and others advise the grown-up kid and the responsibility of execution lies with the kid. Isn’t it day to day work that people do in a family? It’s a very robust process that we do at home almost out of our natural instinct! When we enter into organizations, we forget some of these simple things! Why? I think, this is because of the organizational environment of processes, systems and timelines which take precedence over the intent of helping the person develop!

It makes sense to just keep doing simple yet very meaningful and common-sensical things like having an open and free-flowing discussion, keeping the formats away, developing a relationship and environment of trust and care between the manager and the employee, exchanging thoughts about the possibilities and in the process, help the person discover new vistas. The employee has the potential hidden; if the organization can help her/him unleash it, the organization will benefit directly. If the templates, pressure of scheduling the meeting and completing the forms before a deadline are the hurdles, let’s kill them!

I think, organizations have to create the feeling and the care in the minds of an employee that their potential is valued and the responsibility of unleashing it lies in the hands of the employee. Organization has to create the environment for the employee so that s/he can think, discover and execute plans for one’s development. Let’s get rid of the rigmarole of development discussions, development plans and the numerous communication to finish the task by a deadline. I am sure, employee productivity will rise by at least 1% [save 2 work days out of about 230 work days] giving rise to higher EBITA. People will feel more valued and hence, more engaged. Customers will feel more delighted by the products and services delivered by the engaged employees. An awesome threesome : employee engagement, customer delight and profits! You have a self-sustaining organization for the long-term! wow! 

2 thoughts on “No point writing Development Plan for each of your employees!

  1. The timings couldnt be apt, as we are all going to undergo this in the coming weeks! Wondering if the current scheme of things triggered this blog! 🙂 Being thru this before, handled by different HR person, but, I felt that it was always being ” an exercise” and “one of the KPIs achieved by HR! Of course with you, its being a different experience! For me, it is the manager who is responsible for the growth of his or her team members, by identifying their strengths and using the same for their growth by throwing up the challenges against their strengths! Remembered your story and statement – ” there is an angel within all of us and it is the duty of a good manager / well wisher to bring out that angel!”


  2. Thanks, Charan! I truly believe in the story that there is an angel within all of us waiting to be brought out and unleashed! Many a times, we get caught in such a big activity trap that we fail to discover the angel. I am sure, it happens in small families. An organization is a much bigger entity having many linkages in the superstructure.. naturally, it's complex. I believe, complexity can be dealt with many alternative ways. One size doesn't fit all of them. Discovering the angel is definitely a very creative and emotive process. I don't think that there are standard pills that one can take to do well in this creative process. Had it been so, everyone in this world would have been Michelangelo! Thanks for reminding us of this great concept!


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